Resources for Safe Schools Week

October 25, 2018

Students might stress about a big math exam, or wonder if they will bump into their “crush” in the hall, or worry about hitting the right note in Chorus class. That we can handle. But what’s the one thing kids should never have to worry about at school? Their safety. Some kids walk to school. Others take the bus or another form of public transportation. Teenagers who are old enough to drive may carpool. But however they get there, students deserve not just to feel safe, but to actually be safe, when they walk into their school each and every day. As adults, it’s our responsibility to make sure of it. October 21–28 is Safe Schools Week this year. According to the National Schools Safety Center, “School safety includes keeping campuses free of crime and violence, improving discipline, and increasing student attendance. Schools that are safe and free of violence, weapons, and drugs are necessary to ensure the well-being of all children and the quality of their education.”

Keeping Youth Drug Free, a publication of the Department of Health and Human Services, Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, features what to know and what to do to help parents understand and proactively serve the best interests of their children. According to the publication, studies have found associations between early initiation of alcohol or illicit drug use and an increased likelihood of developing substance use disorders. The Office of the Surgeon General’s call to action to prevent and reduce underage drinking warns that the majority of adolescents who start drinking do so when they are in the 7th or 8th grade and are about 13–14 years old. This book also emphasizes the fact that parents have a significant influence on young people’s decision about alcohol. That’s why it’s crucial that parents and caregivers talk to their children about drugs and alcohol before it’s too late.  Caregivers will learn how to establish and maintain good communication and even learn some of the science behind their child’s judgment. According to the book, the last region of the brain to develop is the pre-frontal cortex. That’s the cortex that governs judgment. Without the ability to predict outcomes and plan accordingly, teens can make choices such as using drugs and alcohol that could hurt them in the long run. Finally, this book takes readers through understanding the different types of drugs and alcohol and their various effects.

To ensure the safety of our nation’s students, it’s crucial that educators and administrators alike understand indicators of school crime and safety. Indicators of School Crime and Safety is a report that draws information from a variety of data sources, including national surveys of students, teachers, and principals. Sources include results from a study of violent deaths in schools. The report is produced jointly by National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Institute of Education Sciences (IES), in the U.S. Department of Education, and the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) in the U.S. Department of Justice.

Many public and private school buildings are old, in poor condition, and may contain environmental conditions that pose increased risks to the health of children and staff. Everyday things like chemicals used in science class, art supplies, and even drinking fountains can all pose threats to children’s safety. Sensible Steps to Healthier School Environments from the Environmental Protection Agency is a publication meant to address some of the most common areas of environmental health concerns found in schools, including chemical management, carbon monoxide, drinking water, lead, mold and much more. Steps to reduce hazards related to these areas are included in the booklet. A quick and easy assessment is included at the end of the booklet for schools to reduce and prevent exposures to common environmental health hazards. The EPA has also brought us a Sensible Guide for Healthier School Renovations which addresses the unique challenges and opportunities of school renovation that can help the school save money and support student performance.

Our little ones are the future! When they’re safe at school, performance improves, and the future is brighter for everyone. Whether you’re a parent, grandparent, teacher, school administrator, or a mentor for a child you know, you can help make positive changes for children. And there’s no better time to start than Safe Schools Week.

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About the author: Blogger contributor Cat Goergen is the PR Specialist in GPO’s Public Relations office.

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